Cancer Surgery | Thoracic Surgery | Dartmouth-Hitchcock
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Cancer Surgery

Thoracic Cancer Treatments

Working as a multidisciplinary team, the Comprehensive Thoracic Oncology Program (CTOP) at Norris Cotton Cancer Center develops a treatment strategy customized to each patient and based on expert evaluation of criteria such as tumor size, stage and molecular type, and the patient's health history and other conditions.

For most people, surgery is still the best option for treating tumors in the lung, esophagus, trachea and mediastinum.

Our skilled thoracic surgeons make use of the latest technologies to offer alternatives to traditional "open" thoracic surgeries, which require a large incision and spreading the ribs. We focus on minimally invasive, video- and robot-assisted procedures for most lung cancers and esophageal cancers to minimize pain, reduce hospital stays, and speed recovery.

Lung Cancer

For early stage lung cancers (Stage IA - IB) that have not spread to the lymph nodes, treatment usually involves surgery alone, or radiation therapy if surgery is not an option.

In more advanced cancers (Stage IIA - IIIA) that have spread to the lymph nodes but remain located on one side of the chest, treatment involves chemotherapy to treat the tumors, followed by surgery to remove the residual tumors.

Late stage cancers (Stages IIIB – IV) that have moved from the lungs into other parts of the body are usually treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.

Esophageal Cancer

Early stage esophageal cancers (Stage IA) are treated through esophagectomy, which removes diseased tissue in the esophagus and surrounding lymph nodes and tissues, and then uses part of the stomach is to rebuild the esophagus. At D-H, esophagectomy is usually done in a robot-assisted, minimally invasive procedure called a RAMIE.

More advanced esophageal cancers (Stage IB through Stage III), are first treated by chemotherapy and radiation, and followed by surgery, also utilizing RAMIE.

Mediastinal Tumors

Mediastinal tumors such as thymoma and thymic carcinoma are usually treated surgically, but also may include chemotherapy before or after surgery. The surgeon will use either RVATS or open approach depending on the size and location of the tumor.

Tracheal Tumors

Treatment of tracheal tumors involves surgery and can include radiation therapy. There are a variety of surgical approaches to removing tumors in the airway that minimize effects on the airway and voice.


Page reviewed on: Jun 26, 2015

Page reviewed by: Dr. David J. Finley

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